Thursday, November 28, 2013

"The Pagan Lord".. a review..

...difficult to believe that this is the seventh book in the Uhtred series, but there you are - time flies...!

So how is Uhtred doing?? Very well I'd say - he's still not rich, he's getting older, he's aware that he's getting slower, but he has the respect of his enemies if not his so called "friends"..

It has amazed me throughout this series why he actually continues to fight for the Saxons when it's fairly clear that culturally, and religiously, he's closer to the Danes - he likes them more as well! That aside however, he continues to fight for the Saxons and in this book is instrumental in saving Wessex and Mercia, and thus the future England, from the Danes...

True to form it starts with him killing a bishop (albeit accidentally) and being condemned and excommunicated by the Saxon Christian church leaders  - his hall is burnt down, and landless & impoverished he takes his followers and goes north...

After many adventures he finally attempts to recapture his family home  - Bamburgh Castle - and is within a gnats whisker of doing it when a vital gate is slammed shut. Luckily he captures hostages, and managed to escape back south where he gets wind of the plot to lure the armies of Æthelred of Mercia, and Alfred's son Edward (now ruling Wessex) into Essex, while the Danes under Cnut Longsword attack from behind into the now unprotected Wessex and Mercia. The scene is set for Battle of Tettenhall....

While there's nothing new in the book, the story fairly rips along - the characters are big, well rounded and likeable, the background is believable, the description of life in the Dark Ages is good - I particularly like Uhtred's view of the building skills of the now departed Romans, evident in buildings that still survive, and how the Saxons can only build in mud and wood.. The battle scenes are just excellent - no one writes about what it must have been like to fight in a shield wall like Cornwell (the only one who comes close to my mind is Steven Pressfield [clicky]). There are indications that Cornwell is also reigning in on some of his more obvious literary habits that I've noticed in the past - there's far less of those dramatic statements at the end of each chapter....

Well worth it - Steve the Wargamer rates this one 8 out of 10...


  1. I read the first few and I'll need to read them all again before I start this one!!

    1. Ray - worth it - I also like the Thomas Hookton/"Grail" books..

  2. PendragonWithout29/11/2013, 07:18

    Hi Steve, Good review of an enjoyable book! I suspect it's only Uhtred's feelings for (and vow to) Aethelflaed that keeps him fighting for the Saxons.

    1. Pendragon - good thought - you may well be right... then again he wasn't that averse to Cnut's lady either!